Page images

counties. In the fens of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire it affords summer and winter fodder. In the Isle of Ely, where its creeping roots choke up the ditches, it is removed by an instrument called a 'bear,' constructed for the purpose. (This is an iron roller, with small spades affixed, drawn by horses, and tears up the plants, which floating are carried away by the stream.) It often grows to the height of six feet, and dries of a white colour. It contains a large quantity of sugar; and horses have been known to prefer it to white clover. At the time of flowering it produces 126,596 lbs. per acre. Fish, especially trout, are very fond of the seeds. Poa annua infests gravel walks and stone-pavements, flowering and producing seed all the year through in quick succession. From its abundance in Suffolk it is sometimes called Suffolk-grass, is said to be good for the dairy, and, in June, produces 5,445 lbs. per acre. The Poas are inferior grasses for cultivation, being very subject, especially P. nemoralis, to a disease called the rust. P. pratensis yields 10,209 lbs. P. trivialis, 7,486 lbs. P. nemoralis, the most variable of grasses, containing from one to five florets in the calyx, according to its shady or more favourable situation, yields, on brown loam, 9,188 lbs. per acre. Briza media, ladies' tresses,' the 'gramen tremulum' of ancient authors, called by the French "Amourettes," is fitted for poor soils, sandy or otherwise, and yields 9,528 lbs. per acre. Cynosurus cristatus continues green after most other grasses are injured by long-continued dry weather, from the great depth to which its roots penetrate the ground. The culms are valuable for the manufacture of bonnets. Hendon hay, which consists chiefly of this grass, is most esteemed for horses in London markets. This grass is known as the 'Hendon bent.' It produces 6,125 lbs. per acre. Cynosurus echinatus is a native of Germany, and found wild near Sandwich, and in the Isle of Jersey, in pastures, cornfields, and on sands by the sea-side. It is of no economic value, producing 5,445 lbs. per acre. An Italian Echinatus, or hedgehog-grass, has obtained the name of Luciola, from its property of shining in the night. It bears two or three round, downy, white heads upon a stalk a foot high. The Earl of Leicester first persevered in the cultivation of Dactylis glomerata, at Holkham. Oxen, horses, and sheep eat it

readily. The stems contain more nourishment than the leaves; the produce is 27,905 lbs. Festuca elatior, or sterilis, is subject to the attacks of the fungus, 'Acinula clavus,' which, upon rye, is called 'ergot.' F. fertilis, a variety of elatior, produces 54,450 lbs. per acre. F. sterilis, 51,046. Festuca pratensis is much cultivated in the grazing pastures of the Vale of Aylesbury. This grass is most profitable for hay before the seed is ripe. In April, it produced 10,890 lbs. per acre. The Festucas are also employed

in the straw manufacture. Mr. Curtis affirms that Bromus sterilis has received its name from its inutility with respect to cattle. It is the 'wild oat-grass,' or 'drank' of Ray; and yields, on sandy soil, 29,947 lbs. Bromus erectus is said, by Mr. Curtis, to be peculiar to chalky soils in its wild state. Pheasants are very fond of the seed, picking off the spikelets before it is perfected. On a rich sandy soil the produce is 12,931 lbs. per acre. The Bromes appear most abundantly on poor and exhausted lands. Geese are very fond of the seed of B. mollis, and if they have access to an orchard or meadow where it grows, will touch nothing else. B. mollis yields 10,890 lbs. per acre; it is reputed fatal to poultry, and unwholesome to men and cattle. Triticum repens is highly esteemed in France as a restorative for horses. The underground shoots, of which cattle are so fond, contain, according to Sir H. Davy, nearly three times as much nutriment as the leaves and stalks. Triticum polonicum is Polish wheat. T. cristatum yields 8,848 lbs. per acre, on a clayey loam. Mr. Whitworth collected sixty varieties of Lolium perenne; the most interesting is one strictly viviparous, never producing flowers or seed, but young plants from the glumes or ears. Lolium perenne is known as 'ray' (a corruption of 'ivraie,' the name of the larger darnel and temulentum) or rye-grass. The Russell's ray-grass yields 15,654 lbs. of grass per The seeds of darnel and of smooth brome grass, L. temulentum and bromus secalinus, are the only two grass seeds found in wheat. Bromus has the flavour of an oat; darnel is larger, and as bitter as gall, and if accidentally ground with the corn, causes blindness and even death to those who partake of it. It is the only poisonous grass known; and is supposed to be the plant rendered 'tares' in the thirteenth chapter of St. Matthew. Lolium is


supposed to be mixed with the opium of the Turks. Hordeum pratense and murinum are particularly prickly and hurtful to the mouths of cattle when made into hay. In the Isle of Thanet, where they abound, it is a recommendation to an inn to furnish provender without 'squirrels' tails' and 'beard-grass.' H. pratense yields 8,167 lbs. per acre. Nardus stricta is of a fine dark green colour. Crows are often seen stocking it up for the larvæ of a tipula, which they find at its root. Hard and wiry, the scythe passes over without dividing a single leaf. The produce from heathy loam is 6,806 lbs. per acre. The sacred grass of India, Cynodon dactylon, is allied to our native creeping panic grass, P. dactylon. The Hindoos pray to it by the name of 'Doob' or 'Dharba:'—"May Durva, which rose from the water of life, which has a hundred roots and a hundred stems, efface a hundred of my sins, and prolong my existence on earth for a hundred years."-(SIR W. JONES.) The native country of the cereal grasses is unknown; oats and barley have been found growing wild on the banks of the Euphrates, supposed to be only remnants of former cultivation. Oil is amongst the products of the grass tribe; sugar from the juice of Saccharum officinarum. Sugar is an antidote to poisoning by arsenic; sugar and water to poisoning by antimony. In the tenth century it was prescribed in lieu of honey as 'Indian salt.' Moses of Chorene had described its preparation in the fifth century. Semolina is wheat dressed like pearl-barley. In the coal measures are fossil grasses known as Poacites.' The 'Adonis gardens' of the ancients were furnished with wheat, barley, fennel, and lettuce.-(BOEKH.)

[ocr errors]





XXIV. I. Polypodium vulgare. common polypody. common: variety with leaflets more acute, Ansty lane. CT.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Cystopteris fragilis. brittle bladder-fern. wall of the railway through Worthington Rough, near the Lount colliery, Staunton Harold. AB.

Aspidium aculeatum. soft prickly shield fern. common. b. lobatum. close-leaved prickly shield fern. shady banks, common: an elongate form of lobatum not uncommon, Braunstone plantations. MK.

A. angulare. near Kirby Muxloe. AB.

Lastrea thelypteris. marsh fern. *Croxton park in the
Vale of Belvoir.

L. oreopteris. heath shield fern. Ansty lane, near Lei-
cester. Mr. J. F. Hollings. near Twycross: Borough
wood, Charley. AB.

L. filix-mas. blunt shield fern. common.

L. spinosa. prickly toothed shield fern. woods.

Variety dilatata. common: Groby: Charnwood forest, and shady lanes near Leicester. MK. Castle grounds, Ashby: Willesley wood: Blackfordby. WHC.



XXIV. I. Athyrium filix foemina. short-fruited spleenwort.



Variety with the purple stem, very fine, Charnwood

heath, 1840. Dr. E. Swithland, 1849. CT. Asplenium viride. green spleenwort. a few plants were found in the crevices of crags at Beacon hill. Dr. P. A. trichomanes. common wall spleenwort. Nailstone church: Swithland slate pits. AB. Gracedieu. PCF. Thurmaston church. JK. beyond Bradgate, near Hallgates lane. CT. *Stathern and other churches. A. adiantum-nigrum. black-stalked spleenwort. rocks, Charnwood forest: Groby: Swithland, &c. MK. Breedon Cloud limeworks. WHC. near Twycross. AB. A. ruta-muraria. wall rue spleenwort. stable walls, Bradgate: Gracedieu priory: Breedon church: wall near the mill, Groby pool. AB. Old walls at the hall, Market Bosworth: Ashby-de-la-Zouch churchyard. NPS. Manor house garden wall, Ashby. WHC. *Muston church. Scolopendrium vulgare. hart's-tongue. shady ditches, Charnwood forest: Beacon hill: rocks near Sheepshed: Humberston church, and lane to Leicester: Braunstone: between Market Bosworth and Cadeby: Holywell, Ashby: Lount wood. WHC. Orton on the Hill. AB. Variety with laciniated leaves. *in the gardens at Belvoir castle.

Blechnum boreale. northern hard fern. heaths, Charnwood forest: Ulverscroft: Newbold Verdon: Outwoods, near Loughborough: Buddon wood: South wood: near Twycross.

Pteris aquilina. common brake. common.

Osmunda regalis. common Osmund-royal. several places on the borders of Charley forest. Dr. P. Gracedieu abbey. BG.

Botrychium lunaria. moonwort. meadow at Humberston, very sparingly. JK. near Twycross in three localities. AB. fields between Oakley wood and Long Whatton, and about Market Harborough. Dr. P.

« PreviousContinue »